Why People Share Links

June 4, 2020

Almost everyone out there has shared links to content before, it’s not a secret. But what is likely less discussed is why people promote content by sharing links with their friends, family, and followers. We usually engage in free promotion for other websites by sharing links without thinking about the deeply-rooted reason behind why we are sharing them. Since we’re all humans and our behavior is heavily studied, we were able to learn more about those subconscious reasons we share links.

Most of our online behavior has become second nature at this point. We check our email, surf the web, read up on some news, watch the occasional cat video, creep on people’s social media profiles, etc. It has gotten to the point where taking part in website promotion by sharing something we found online is commonplace and you either send or receive something at least once a day through this action.

So let’s break down the mostly subconscious reasons behind why people are willing to help with website promotion by sharing links to their friends, family, and followers.

People share links to show off their knowledge

Have you ever done an online math puzzle that was floating around the interwebs and felt pretty proud that you figured it out? What about an interesting article you read on the study of dark matter that you mostly understood? 

These are both examples of links people share to flaunt their knowledge and skills. Since they are able to share something they are proud of or excited about, they don’t even register the fact that they are engaging in free website promotion for the source of the link they shared. There’s nothing wrong with it, unless you lied about solving that online math puzzle….we know who you are. This is an ancient human behavior that has been happening for centuries, well before the internet. And it’s not going to stop anytime soon.

People share links to make people laugh

One of the most common reasons content is shared online is because it’s funny, plain and simple. When it comes to humans, it’s a fact of life that we love to laugh. So when you come across an article, a meme, or a video that actually makes you laugh out loud, you usually share it with others so they can laugh too. Users don’t even think about the website promotion benefits of sharing something funny because very few things feel as good as making someone laugh, it’s like a drug. There’s a strong emotional connection tied to sharing links to hilarious content and it simply makes us feel good to do it. 

People share links to support their opinions

I’m sure we have all been in an argument discussion with someone and felt the need to prove our point by finding the answer online. Or we had a particular opinion on a politician and found an article online supporting all the reasons why we don’t like them. 

This is another reason why people promote content for free by sharing links, to support their opinions. It’s a defensive mechanism, either to reassure yourself that you’re not the only person who has this opinion on the (insert opinion topic here) and that there has to be other people out there that agree. Or to defend your pride and intelligence because you were right and Susan was wrong.

People share links to make money

This one might sound a little crazy but there are a lot of people out there that make a living on affiliate links. It’s a prominent industry at this time, as you can imagine, because we live in a world of online sharing. Affiliate marketers can make a commission by using specific links and promoting other people’s website or a brand’s products. So the more they promote your website by sharing links, the more likely they are to reach someone who will click on that link and buy the product. That’s why they get their payment. This type of link promotion through sharing isn’t subconscious like the previous examples but it is becoming an increasingly popular motivation to share links.

People share links to support a cause or brand

Have you ever shared a link to an article describing the success of a brand you adore or a post about a new campaign to raise money for a cause such as the World Wildlife Fund? Maybe you work for a brand and your job is to promote your website and spread awareness online through sharing links?

This form of online promotion is another, less subconscious example of why people share links. When you are passionate about a cause or a brand or a person, you want to share it with others. People also do this to find others with like-minded interests. But another reason people share links about things they’re passionate about is to introduce others to it. I mean if you don’t know who Greta Thunberg is, you should probably go learn more about her right now because she’s a stellar human being. 

In today’s world, people love to share links for a number of reasons. At least now you hopefully have a better understanding of why you felt you had to share that video of the dog with the trash can lid stuck on its head.

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